Rousimare Palhares vs Alan Belcher: Modern BJJ in old UFC

This is one of my all-time favorite fights, when Rousimare Palhares (or “Paul Harris”) was the most terrifying chimp/man on the planet and Alan Belcher was one of the few 10th Planet banner holders in the UFC. I still remember watching while eating cheerios in my boxers back in college.

My Jiu-Jitsu mind was opened up to the possibilities of The Truck and the fact that heel hook defense (beyond spinning out) is a thing that exists.

My Favorite part: Joe Rogan simultaneously commentating and yelling at Alan through the cage “Get out of there Alan! Back your hips up and get out of there!”



BJJ Notes from Alan Belcher vs Rousimare Palhares:

[time stamps based on UFC Round & Clock]

[4:15] Outside Head Position. Alan Belcher does a beautiful high crotch takedown reversal. This worked because he kept Rousimare Palhares’ head on the outside pinned to the ground. He sealed the inside by leaning his own head position forward toward Palhares’ own hips.

[4:15] Cross Body-Ride Truck Entry. Alan Belcher used a disconnected cradle to flip Rousimare Palhares onto his back and into the truck position.

[4:15] Leg Configuration. Alan Belcher’s Twister hook was already in position just by being inside (between) Rousimare Palhares legs. THis works great because the takedown player wants that foot between the legs anyway.

[4:02] Calf Crank Opportunity. Rousimare Palhares triangling his own leg is a gift for a calf crank submission. This is a common beginner mistake that can easily end the fight.

[3:40] Baseball Bat Control. It’s called ‘baseball bat’ because of the orientation of your palms, but the hands are usually separated. Alan Belcher’s right hand’s purpose is to hold Rousimare Palhares wrist. Alan Belcher’s left elbow is used a wedge in Palhares’ armpit. The push-pull opposing forces of wrist and elbow take slack out of the arm and easy to control

[3:40] Lotus vs Lockdown. Alan Belcher’s knees should be flaring toward the gorund and his heels digging toward his own hips rather than extending for a reverse lockdown. Rousimare Palhares did not take advantage of the error

[3:20] Twister Greed. Alan Belcher made the mistake of skipping step 2 in “The Final Three” steps. He should have hooked the shoulder and twisted his own torso to face Rousimare Palhares before trying to wrap the head. Going from wrist control all the way to head control is too long a pathway. The 3 attempts allowed Palhares to predict the attack and quickly transition to leg entanglements

[2:56] Missed Honeyhole Opportunity. At this time Jiu-Jitsu history (2011 I believe) The Honeyhole, Saddle, or Inside Senkaku Cross Ashi position was not a known phenomenon. Only the guys in the blue basement knew much about it. For Rousimare Palhares, the only options were kneebar, outside heel hook, or 5050-inside heel hook.

[2:35] Heel Slipping. Alan Belcher did a great job getting his heel back from getting hooked. He used heel slipping, and stomping with the free leg. The only mistake was attempting to triangle to protect. That usually only makes the situation worse from Double Outside Ashi position.

[1:52] Handfighting. This is the last ditch effort from 50-50 and Alan executed it beautifully. It’s very difficult to hold, let alone finish a heel hook with one hand


[1:42] Free Kneeline. This is the most important checkpoint in leg lock defense—especially heel hooks. ONce you can move your kneecap on your side of your opponent’s “crotchal region” (and keep it out) you’re safe from the threat of heel hook

Just want to say that for all these critiques I’ve leveled, I’m so so grateful for these guys pushing forward Jiu-Jitsu’s evolution on the world’s biggest stage. My goal is to build on their foundation.

Showing 7 comments
  • Aoli

    Dope man this was nice

  • Jay

    Very good breakdown!

  • Michael Plaster

    great breakdown Patrick. looking forward to more!

  • Matty

    Enjoyed this a lot, thank you.

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